The battle in Brooklyn over bike lanes heated up again Thursday at a Park Slope meeting, after a lawsuit was filed the same week to get rid of the lane along Prospect Park West. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The turnout was big and the atmosphere intense in Park Slope, as supporters and opponents of the controversial Prospect Park bicycle lane had their say Thursday night at Community Board 6's public hearing. The argument over proposed changes to the bicycle lane even spilled out into the hallway.
Fans of the bike lane signed petitions, handed out stickers and some even had their children testify. The supporters far outnumbered the critics.
"I think it's clear tonight that there's probably an 8-to-1 ratio of supporters versus opponents," said neighbor Eric McClure. "I think that speaks to how important this project is and how widely embraced in the neighborhood it is."
Opponents disagreed, claiming the reason for the big turnout was because of a massive online campaign by a leading cyclist group.
"Transportation Alternatives sent out on the Internet a rousing call for every biker in New York City, whether they were in Park Slope or not, to come because they said it was a watershed moment for biking in New York City," said Lois Carswell of Seniors For Safety.
The two-way bike lane was installed at the beginning of the summer. But because it sparked so much debate, a survey was conducted in the community with results given to the Department of Transportation.
The DOT has now proposed some modifications, like creating islands and adding markings, and so the community board held a hearing.
Both the DOT and supporters claim safety has improved along the corridor for bikers, pedestrians and motorists, but critics argue the data is flawed and this week they filed a lawsuit to get the bike lane removed.
"A bunch of fudged data. They manipulated the data to show what they wanted to show," said Carswell.
Supporters say the numbers speak for themselves.
"We all from time to time encounter statistics that we don't like. But that does not mean they're not true," said Anne Pope of Transportation Alternatives.
The next step is for the community board to give its recommendation to the DOT on the proposed modifications, and that is expected to happen next month.